I have a 1993 Honda Civic Hatchback with a 1.6 liter v-tech. The other day I was driving to work in the rain (there were deep puddles on the road). Suddenly, my check engine light came on and I lost power, not completely, it just bogged out. The check engine light shut off and I got power back. I made it to work and after I left work, my check engine light turned back on and I lost power again. Since then, it will start up first thing in the morning, it drives but there is no power. It won't go above 2,500 rpm. It eventually dies and won't start again until the next day. I don't have the plastic motor cover on the bottom of the car. Is there something that could have gotten water in it? My friend tested the distributor and it's fine, but my other friend said it isn't getting adequate spark. My catalytic converter went out and was plugged up, and I thought that might be the issue. I can't afford another one for a couple more weeks so I hallowed it out. That didn't do it. Any ideas?

  • My first guess will be the spark plugs/spark plugs wiring. With an old car like yours, this could need to be changed. This shouldn't be too expensive. Feb 10, 2014 at 22:30

3 Answers 3


Splashed water up into the engine compartment can cause issues with the wires or the distributor. Start the car (if possible) at night in the dark while looking under the hood. Check for a light show (blue arcing) from the spark plug wires. If there is, these need changed and is most likely the problem. Secondly, pull the distributor cap and spray the inside of it with WD-40. While WD-40 is used as a lubricant, it's original purpose was as a cleaner on air craft surfaces. Part of the protection of it is as water displacement, thus the name (WD = Water Displacement). It works good in distributors to keep water out and misfires to a minimum. If this helps clear things up, the distributor cap/rotor should be replaced. If this does not help, you will need to check your coil to ensure it is working correctly. I found an excellent diagnostic site to show the tests for all of this. It is too extensive to copy onto here, but should answer all your questions how how to test the entire system from wires to coil and everything in between.

  • 1
    Thank you. I will let you know if it works. We tested the distributor on another civic, but with a different coil.
    – Tinker
    Feb 10, 2014 at 23:09
  • @user9467 ... Using known good parts, such as the coil, is a good diagnostic method if it's available to you. Feb 10, 2014 at 23:10
  • I bought a new coil and it didn't work. I was hoping it was the problem since the coil is almost $150 cheaper than the distributor.
    – Tinker
    Feb 11, 2014 at 6:18
  • @illicit ... just because you bought a new coil does not mean it isn't bad as well. Like I was saying, using a known good (such as one from a running car of the same make/model) works really well when doing diagnostics. Feb 11, 2014 at 10:48

If I were you I would try the main relay and the fuel pump relay next. My Honda accord had the same symptoms until I replaced those two relays.

1999 Honda Accord Coupe Stalls After Warm Startup and Shaky Idle TSB

  • We were looking for those relays and couldn't find them. Where are they located?
    – Tinker
    Feb 12, 2014 at 7:18
  • Never mind. I found the main relay, it's the grey plug behind the hood latch under the driver side dash. Are the main relay and fuel pump relay the same thing? That's what some of the sites I searched said.
    – Tinker
    Feb 12, 2014 at 18:30
  • Yeah they do appear to be one in the same on the 93 Civic. Feb 12, 2014 at 21:46

Just another idea. You said you went thru a large water puddle and then problems started? Where is your engine air intake. Many newer engines(after 1990) esp. have an air intake that is routed to the area behind the front bumper. In a high water situation water can be drawn into the engine. It is possible that happened fouling one of several sensors controlling air/fuel mixture.

  • Thank you for the response Elwood. This car was sold a few years ago to a man who rebuilds Civics. I believe it turned out to be a head problem. He has since fixed it and the car is running again.
    – Tinker
    Oct 6, 2015 at 19:52
  • Glad you found the "solution". Ha,ha. Oct 12, 2015 at 7:03

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